A Night at the Movies

by Dale Reeves
Story Pastor

According to nationaldaycalendar.com, the second Friday in June is designated as “National Movie Night.” Today is also National Iced Tea Day for all you southerners who love that sweet tea! Or today you could choose to celebrate “National Egg Roll Day,” or “National Herbs and Spices Day.” For our purposes today, let’s stay with the theme of National Movie Night. Grab your favorite movie-watching blanket and cuddle up with your family members, lock up the cell phones and tablets, and enjoy a night of family fun. If the weather cooperates, and you have the ability to show the movies outside, even better! Pop some popcorn, make sure you have everyone’s favorite movie candy on hand, and let the good times roll! You can even use this as a chance to reach out to your neighbors and invite them to be a part of your evening.

Jennifer and Jayda Borget, a mother-daughter duo fluent in movie quotes and authors of the Family Movie Night Journal, founded National Movie Night for the purpose of making memories with your family through new and classic movies. Today, thanks to streaming services, our video library can be as large as we want it to be. There are lots of suggestions for appropriate family movies that you can Google, and if you’re looking specifically for faith-based movies and reviews of all kinds of media, Focus on the Family’s pluggedin.com is a great resource. The Plugged-in blog provides lots of great suggestions for appropriate streaming for families, as well as the top Christian movies streaming now. Check it out here: https://www.pluggedin.com/blog/

The Power of Influence

Movies should be about good stories that entertain us, connect us, teach us, influence us, and inspire us. From my earliest days as a child, I enjoyed reading great stories from my Children’s Bible, and now as grandparents, my wife and I get to pass on that tradition of reading fun and inspiring stories to our grandkids. Besides all things dinosaur, one of their favorites is the Noah’s Ark storybook we have on our children’s bookshelf. Even as we contemplate with them how all those animals fit on the ark, we are influencing them at a very early age with the idea that God cares for them and he has even left a sign of his promise to us through the creation of a rainbow. Yes, the rainbow was originally God’s idea.

Speaking of influence, did you know that the original Top Gun movie resulted in a 500 percent increase in Navy recruitment rates? No doubt, the military is hoping the sequel just released will do the same. The military is dealing with the toughest recruitment market in two decades, and according to Flying magazine, it needs to fill about 1,600 empty cockpits. This past weekend my wife and I ventured into the theater (which we had not done together in quite some time thanks to COVID), to view Tom Cruise’s latest release, Top Gun: Maverick, a sequel that was thirty-six years in the making. After thirty years in service, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell is still a captain in the U.S. Navy. His bold and at times, reckless, attitude meant that he missed out on a few promotions in rank, but at the end of the day, he is still most comfortable flying. If you enjoy watching some top pilots pulling some serious Gs while doing high-speed maneuvers, and daredevil flying at Mach speed, you’ll love the movie.

The Power of a Team Approach

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I don’t want to offer any spoilers for you. But here are a few of my takeaways:

  • The best way to train others in some skill is to effectively teach, but most importantly, model what the standard looks like. Jesus trained his twelve disciples that way, then the Holy Spirit left us all a “flight manual” based on what Jesus said and effectively modeled in his life and death.
  • Everybody I know needs a wingman or “wingwoman” who is constantly looking out for their back, doing whatever is necessary to help them accomplish their mission. Jesus gave us marching orders in his kingdom (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8), but none of us are meant to accomplish those directives solo
  • The success of the “impossible” mission the Top Gun pilots were challenged with would hinge on their ability to not only perform their jobs to perfection, but perhaps even more essential—become a close-knit team, being willing to sacrifice anything for the man or woman next to them.

Our senior minister Brad Wilson just saw the movie this week and he said, “I like how they ended the movie. It could have gone south, but didn’t. One of my favorite things in the movie has to do with reconciliation with several relationships.”

These are all great takeaways for the church. We must be about training through teaching God’s Word in a culture today that is increasingly hostile to God’s agenda. God has given us his perfect and inerrant Word so that we can effectively teach, rebuke, correct, and train in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16, 17). We are constantly talking about “Community Begins Here” in our church. As a community of followers of God who are looking out for each other, we must always have one another’s backs, so that we can each accomplish the mission God has called us to. Teamwork and sacrificing for one another are indispensable for the success of our mission. Just as the movie dealt with a few reconciliation issues, we know that our loving Father specializes in reconciliation. And, what a privilege it is for us to be invited into that redemption process.

The apostle Paul put it like this:

“God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’ For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:18-21, NLT).

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